5 June 2023
Artefacts of Cēsis Art Festival – Wagner, Middle Ages, musical theatre, contemporary art and high tech
From 15 July through 20 August 2023, Cēsis Art Festival will continue to bring life to the emerging Rainis Creative and Digital Quarter of Cēsis with an opening concert featuring Radio Choir’s songs without words and a contemporary art show, ‘Artefacts of the Present’. The ‘Cēsis Wagneriana’ is bringing you a concert production of the ‘Siegfried’ opera, while the Cēsis Castle Park open-air stage will host a programme of stage music by Kārlis Lācis. A recital by the American-born pianist Robert Fleitz is a promise of a new musical discovery. Meanwhile, a programme of medieval chants will be presented by Schola Cantorum Riga at Cēsis St John’s Church. Also at the festival, a world of colour at an art exhibition by Raimonds Staprāns and a synergy of technology and visual arts at Martins Vizbulis’ show.
Several years ago, Cēsis Art Festival transformed the premises of the vacated metal lid production plant at the so-called Blind Quarter into a new exhibition space for contemporary art, giving it a new lease on life and a new role. As art continues to take root in this converted industrial complex with each passing year, Cēsis will soon add a new venue to its map of cultural spaces: the territory is now undergoing a transformation into Rainis Creative and Digital Quarter.
In keeping with the tradition, despite development work already being underway at Cēsis Creative Quarter, the festival will open on 15 July at Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art with the unveiling of the ‘Artefacts of the Present’ exhibition. In continuation of the practice started last year, it will be local artists and guests from the Baltic region who will take centre place in this year’s show – Oļa Vasiļjeva and Kristaps Ancāns, Augustas Serapinas and Lina Lapelytė. The exhibition will be centred around the artists’ dialogue with space, its history, and reflections on an imaginary future while fostering awareness of our place in the temporal and territorial context of the world.
‘There is this place in the forest as you drive from Kuldīga to Sārnate where instances of ‘time loop’ are known to have been observed: people find themselves at the exact same crossroads twice. When there is no idea of a progression, be it towards ‘a better future’, a ‘Western orientation’, ‘advancement’ or ‘a new policy’, and it has been replaced by extinction, time takes the shape of a vertical line piercing the ground. Everything pours into this single moment, instantaneous yet simultaneously infinite, and the perspective of the here and now is formed by artefacts of the past and the future,’ says the curator Žanete Skarule, describing the concept behind the exhibition.
‘At this time of global economic and political turmoil, it is currently more important than ever for us to be aware of our genuine worthiness. We must take pride in our achievements, our outstanding professionals, our ability to generate unique socially valuable initiatives. By supporting Cēsis Art Festival for the 16th year running, we are giving one of the top high-quality events on the Latvian culture and art scene a chance to shine as bright as ever,’ says Ieva Tetere, Chair of the Board of SEB Latvia, in support of significant music and art events.
Cēsis Exhibition Hall will be the venue of the ‘Too Close, Too Far Away’ exhibition marking the upcoming centenary of the painter and playwright Raimonds Staprāns in 2026. Well known on the art scenes of California, USA, and Latvia, Staprāns with his instantly recognisable style has not just made a significant contribution to these two cultural spaces but also left his mark globally. The show is curated by Maija Rudovska.
Last but not least, the third of the trio of Cēsis Art Festival exhibitions, housed at Cēsis Concert Hall, will see artist Martins Vizbulis continue his artistic exploration of synergy between microcontrollers and various sensors and virtual reality, engaging the viewers in direct communication with the artworks. A smartphone is a must for your visit to the ‘Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency Communication’ art show: the viewers will be invited to communicate with the works using their devices.
‘LMT is genuinely proud to have been working with Cēsis Art Festival for over 10 years now. Innovation and experimenting with new forms are an integral part of Cēsis Art Festival, which resonates with the vision of LMT, a company that always strives for innovation, pushing back horizons and expanding the space of possibilities in science and entrepreneurship, as well as in culture by providing accessibility of high-quality content,’ says Laura Keršule, Vice President of LMT.
The musical programme of Cēsis Art Festival likewise opens on 15 July with a concert entitled ‘Songs Without Words’. The Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Kļava and percussionist Miks Čavarts will take their listeners on a journey around the world of painterly sound produced by the most unique and most perfect musical instrument on earth, the human voice. Similarly to the art form of painting, where we find texture and brushstrokes of a vast range of intensity, the musical language used by the composers featured in the programme employs an enormous spectrum of expression. The programme presents music by Žibuoklė Martinaitytė, John Cage and Anders Hillborg.
A week later, on 22 July, the festival hosts a recital that will serve as an introduction to the young and talented American-born pianist Roberts Fleitz, whose performance has been described by The New York Times as ‘mesmerising’ and ‘commanding’. His piano playing and character as a performer is defined by a vivid and deeply personal approach to contemporary and classical music alike. The first part of Fleitz’s solo recital ‘Silent Resonances’ will feature pieces by Latvian contemporary composers Krists Auznieks, Linda Leimane, Gundega Šmite, Imants Zemzars and Jānis Petraškevičs; the second half will see the pianist perform piano opuses by the American composer Jeffrey Mumford and the Ukrainian post-modernist Valentyn Sylvestrov.
Late in the month, on 29 July, as a new contribution to the ‘Cēsis Wagneriana’, Cēsis Art Festival and Cēsis Concert Hall will jointly present a performance of the third part of Richard Wagner’s opera tetralogy ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ – ‘Siegfried’, a tale of a young man who slays a dragon and learns the power of love. The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra will be led by the young and passionate Finnish maestro Tarmo Peltokoski, who has already taken the international musical scene by storm. Also part of the creative team of the concert production is the artistic tandem of director Viesturs Kairišs and set designer Ieva Jurjāne.
The upcoming concert performance at Cēsis Concert Hall will star some of the world’s leading opera singers at the prime of their career. The title role will be performed by Michael Weinius, who was an excellent Siegmund in the 2019 rendering of ‘Die Walküre’ in Cēsis. This will be our first meeting with the award-winning internationally sought-after character tenor Andreas Conrad as the Niebelung Mime. The role of the Traveller a.k.a. Wotan will be sung by the excellent Oliver Zwarg, who appeared as Kurwenal in the Cēsis version of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ and has sung Alberich in the Latvian National Opera production of ‘Das Rheingold’. The Lithuanian dramatic soprano Vida Miknevičiūtė, who is well known in Latvia, is taking on the complex role of Brünnhilde, and we will hear the brilliant Swedish contralto Anna Larsson as Erda in Cēsis. Fafner the Dragon will be performed by Timo Riihonen, whom we met as Hunding in ‘Die Walküre’ in Cēsis, Alberich will be sung by Armands Siliņš, and Kristīne Gailīte will embody the Woodbird.
The musical programme of the festival continues on 5 August with a recital of medieval chants performed by the Schola Cantorum Riga early music ensemble, Guntars Prānis and Ieva Nīmane at Cēsis St John’s Church. The programme features examples of Gregorian and late medieval polyphonic chant, showcasing the performance practice of the time in various European cities. The rich musical contrasts of the programme will conjure up an image of the vivid and diverse musical life of the Late Middle Ages.
The ever eagerly anticipated open-air concert on the Cēsis Castle Park stage on 13 August will see Kārlis Lācis, one of the most visible composers of his generation, joined by a group of popularly acclaimed singers and actors, present a programme of his music from various theatre productions and musicals.
Musicals and incidental music for stage hold a special place in the oeuvre of Kārlis Lācis: his debut in the musical theatre genre, ‘Blow, Wind!’, became a box-office hit for the Liepāja Theatre, running for several seasons and earning both popularity among theatre-goers and critical acclaim. Created especially for Cēsis Art Festival, the programme featuring a selection of the most memorable numbers from Lācis’ musicals will be an opportunity to relive the stories of the viewers’ favourite characters from ‘Blow, Wind!’, ‘Onegin’, ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Swamp Wader into the Fire’.
The soloists appearing at the concert production – Intars Busulis, Artūrs Skrastiņš, Jānis Aišpurs, Aija Vītoliņa, Aija Andrejeva, Agnese Jēkabsone, Ieva Kerēvica and Klāvs Košins – are all performers whose names are synonymous with top artistic quality.
Tickets for festival concerts are available at the Biļešu Paradīze ticket offices and online at www.bilesuparadize.lv.
Phone: +371 26171151
Cēsis Art Festival is supported by the Patron of the festival SEB Banka; the General Sponsor of the festival LMT, the leading telecommunication operator in Latvia; Cēsis Municipality Council; State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia; Mondriaan Fund; AJ Power and Moller Auto.